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Contemporary Issues in Social & Political Sciences. - SPS00001C

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  • Department: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kevin Farnsworth
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2020-21

Module summary

This is a multidisciplinary module, drawing on key theories and debates in the social sciences in order to develop understanding and responses to contemporary societal problems and challenges.  

Case studies will be introduced early in the Autumn and Spring terms. A public talk relating to the case study will be delivered by an internal or external speaker. Supplementary materials will also be made available. Students will be able to ask questions during the talk, and over several subsequent weeks will formulate their own line of enquiry and analysis, informed by the completion of their own critical summaries of related theoritical and empirical work. Weekly workshops will help to guide student reading, analysis, critical reflections and preparation of assessed work.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

This module will familiarise students with the key conceptual, theoretical and methodological components of the major disciplinary traditions in the social and political sciences. Students will engage with key questions and debates and explore the social and political context in which they take place. The module will equip students with the investigative and analytical tools necessary to interrogate knowledge in the social and political sciences, and to discuss and critically assess its value to society.

Module learning outcomes

  1. Identify the key conceptual, theoretical and methodological components of the major disciplinary traditions in the social and political sciences 

  2. Apply knowledge and theory drawn from the social sciences to addressing real world problems 

  3. Understand the practical, political and ethical challenges of research in the social sciences

  4. Develop familiarity with a range of evidence sources relevant to the acquisition and sharing of knowledge in social and political science

  5. Demonstrate criticality and reflexivity in learning and be able to communicate these skills both verbally and in writing

  6. Work collaboratively and reflect on positionality and sensitivity to the values and positions of others in academic debate

Module content

Autumn

Weeks 2-4

Key Concepts

Grand Theories

Researching in the Social and Political Sciences

 

Weeks 5-10

Case study I

 

Spring

Weeks 2-4

Key Concepts

Grand Theories

Researching in the Social and Political Sciences

 

Weeks 5-10

Case study II


 

Summer

Weeks 2-4

Debates in the Social and Political Sciences

Dissemination of key ideas (poster/presentation event)

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Portfolio : Term 1 Summaries
N/A 40
Essay/coursework
Portfolio : Term 2 Summaries
N/A 40
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Poster
N/A 20

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

Formative work is embedded in the small group teaching where students actively discuss completed summaries, giving and receiving peer and tutor feedback.

The two portfolios (Terms 1 and 2) are made up of short summaries/reflections. Each portfolio is weighted at 40% of the final mark.

The summaries will be submitted and assessed throughout the term in order to provide regular and useful summative feedback. Students will be asked to submit up to 9 summaries in total per term. They should submit a mimum of 5. The overall mark for the portfolio will be calculated on the basis of the highest five marks. Non-submissions will be awarded a mark of zero which will be used in the calculation of the average mark for the portfolio if a student submits less than 5 summaries. Students who fail to submit a minimum of 5 summaries will be unable to fully satisfy the learning outcomes for this module. For this reason, a penalty of 10 marks which will be applied to the overall portfolio mark.  

Because the summaries will inform the discussion in the seminars, and because feedback from that week's summary will be provided by the tutor, all summaries have to be completed in advance of the relevant seminar. No extensions will be given. However, there are four recovery opportunities built into the assessment to enable students to acheive the required number of submissions.

In order to provide cumulative and individually-tailored feedback to students, as well as a student-tutor dialogue (in individual tutorials), assessed work will not be anonymised.  

The poster/presentation event (term 3) will consist of a poster and brief description that summarises the case study. In addition, one of the summer term summaries will provide critical reflections on the final poster (justification for the design, strengths/weaknesses, how it might be improved etc). 

Students who fail to achieve a passing mark for the module as a whole would have to complete an alternative assessed piece of work as follows. 

A 2500 word essay to replace the portfolio in Term 1

A 2,500 word essay so replace the portfolio in Term 2

A 1,500 word essay to replace the Poster Assignment


 

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Portfolio : Term 1 Summaries
N/A 40
Essay/coursework
Portfolio : Term 2 Summaries
N/A 40
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Poster
N/A 20

Module feedback

Feedback will be provided on summaries via Turnitin Grademark.

For other components, feedback will be provided to students using a standard marking and feedback matrix.

All work will be returned within the University Turnaround Time policy (although feedback on the summaries will usually be speedier in order to increase learning opportunities, especially in term 1). 

Generic feedback is also provided in the weekly classes. Students are also given the opportunity to discuss assessment performance through arrangements for academic supervision.

Indicative reading

The key readings for this module will be drawn from a combination of key, contemporary journal articles relating to the case studies. 

 

Key theories across various disciplines will be drawn from scholarly handbooks, eg:

 

Pete Alcock, Tina Haux, Margaret May, Sharon Wright (eds) (latest edition) The Student's Companion to Social Policy, Wiley

 

Robert E. Goodin (2013) The Oxford Handbook of Political Science  

 

Kathleen Odell Korgen (2017) The Cambridge Handbook of Sociology



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.